We Young Preservationists believe in doing simple projects that engage the community in fun and creative ways. Sooo…enter the Heart Bomb!!
What is a Heart Bomb? Well, it is a piece of paper with a cute phrase pasted onto vacant buildings to show it some love. Many cities have taken on the Heart Bomb and given it their own spin. From Heart Bombing historic taverns in the midwest to celebrating texas courthouses in the south, the Heart Bomb has traveled far and wide and has saved many buildings from the wrecking ball.
If you’re looking for a guide on how to Heart Bomb, it exists here! And let us know how your Heart Bombings go…we love pictures and stories!
Let’s dive in and see how we do it!
In Muncie, Preserve Greater Indy Heart Bombed with the Muncie Historic Preservation and Rehabilitation Commission and students from Ball State’s historic preservation program. Our goal is to see all of the Heart Bomb sites be preserved, adapted, and repurposed as part of broader revitalization efforts in Muncie.
Heart Bomb sites included the endangered Kitselman Mansion, which is looking for a new owner and use that will cherish this architectural marvel. The Rainbow Cathedral previously served as Muncie’s first LGBT church, but is now vacant and for sale. Just a block from the heart of downtown Muncie, the Rainbow Cathedral could be a great asset for Muncie if rehabbed and adapted for a new use. Next, we headed over and shared some love for the brick pavers on Powers Street, as the City of Muncie may pave over this important part of Muncie’s heritage.
Our last Heart Bomb stop was the darling Mid-Century Modern gas station on South Madison Street – the last of its kind in downtown Muncie. At the modest size of 1,400 square feet, we could dream up a variety of new uses for this gem currently for sale.
Ohio, Just About All of It!
The Young Ohio Preservationists launched our first Heart Bomb campaign, and partnered with 13 Main Street Programs and the Columbus Landmarks Foundation to bring attention to Ohio’s invaluable historic districts and historic structures.
In Columbus, we at the YOP Heart Bombed Columbus Railway Power & Light (1915), Macon Hotel (1888), and Bellows School (1905). The Columbus Railway Power and Light structure is all that is left of Columbus’s long-forgotten rail system. Privately owned, this building has infinite redvelopment potential due to its proximity to the Short North Arts District. Neglected, the Macon Hotel was once a hub for jazz music performances. Today the building sits vacant and accumulating code violations. Bellows School is slated to be demolished in 2023, as part of an ODOT project expanding I-70/71 even though the structure was found to be eligible for the NRHP as part of a 2006 study!
Heart Bomb events were also done throughout Ohio, in Van Wert, Greenville, Troy, Marietta, Cambridge, Painesville, Mount Vernon, Chardon, Lebanon, Delaware, Defiance, and Cleveland’s Gateway and Warehouse districts. #HeartbombOhio was made possible thanks to our sponsors: Greater Columbus Arts Council, Designing Local, and Igloo Letterpress.
The Young Preservationists Association of Pittsburgh was excited to launch our very first Heart Bomb Campaign this year. All of the buildings we bombed (with love!) have been featured on one of our Top Ten Preservation Opportunities in Southwestern PA lists, which we’ve released annually since 2003.
On Sunday, we partnered with the Student Conservation Association to introduce conservation in a whole new way to a group of high school students to Heart Bomb three buildings in Pittsburgh’s historic Hill District. In the early to mid 1900’s, the Hill District, often called “Little Harlem,” was home to over 600 clubs, the crown jewel of which was the Crawford Grill. Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Louis Armstrong performed here, and it was where notable Pittsburgh jazz musicians such as Leroy Brown and George Benson cut their teeth. The New Granada Theater was built in 1928 by Louis A.S. Bellinger, Pittsburgh’s first black architect. We also stopped down the street to the first home of August Wilson, whose ten plays known as The Pittsburgh Cycle are considered to be a great American triumph. Two of his plays, “Fences” and “The Piano Lesson”, have won Pulitzer Prizes.
Located very closely to downtown Pittsburgh, the Hill District and its residents never rebounded from the loss of industry in Pittsburgh like other communities have, and many of its historic buildings, and more importantly its history and identity, are severely threatened by demolition either from neglect or for new development. There are no national historic districts in the Hill District.
You can read more about Pittsburgh Heart Bombs and the history of the sites on our blog.
Wheeling, West Virginia
When the Wheeling Young Preservationists formed in the fall of 2012, a Heart Bombing campaign was one of our first orders of business. The founders of WYP initiated the “All We Need Is Love” campaign to highlight historic buildings in downtown Wheeling that were vacant and/or architecturally significant to the fabric of our city.
The next two years members of WYP and other young (and young-at-heart) preservationists continued what we now refer to as “Lovescaping” in February to bring attention to our city’s historic (and most importantly, available) properties in downtown.
So far, WYP’s Lovescaping campaign has, directly and indirectly, played a role in successfully transferring six buildings out of the demolition radar and into responsible ownership.
In 2015, WYP took Lovescaping to a new level by creating #WheeLove to encourage everyone in the community to post photos to Instagram and Facebook of local structures that they #WheeLove and share why that structure is important to them- a sort of Valentine for their favorite building. #WheeLove is used throughout the year to promote preservation efforts and aid in the discussion of the building’s importance to our city.
The steering committee of WYP decided not to Lovescape in 2016. Instead we will focus on creating a full line-up of events for the whole month of May, to help celebrate and draw attention to National Preservation Month.
Buffalo, New York: Home of the Original Heart Bomb
We Heart Bomb. It’s pretty cool. Once we put a giant 2 story Heart Bomb that said Buffalove on a warehouse that could be seen from Canada! Our goal is to highlight our favorite vacant buildings every year.
This year we Heart Bombed the following buildings:
204 High Street: A vacant Italianate that is steps from our growing medical campus. It has been vacant for nearly 20 years and is a demolition by neglect project that deserves a new life. Check it out: http://www.preservationready.org/Buildings/204HighStreet
The Bachelor : The oldest apartment building in downtown Buffalo, built in 1886. It was originally built for bachelor men moving into the city! Such a cool building with a great history! It is currently up for demolition for a 20+ story hotel, which is odd because its demolition is paired with a SHPO approved restoration of the Christian Center which is a block away.
BYP is currently working to landmark the building and also has had SHPO reconsider the historic tax credits for the project! You can read about it here.
The Crosby Complex: This brick industrial complex has been neglected for 40 years or more. The owner was ready for demo but thanks to the efforts from the entire preservation community, they are now looking into stabilization!